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Toews back in Blackhawks' lineup

Chicago captain set to face Coyotes on Thursday

NHL.com @NHL

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will return to the lineup Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes (9 p.m. ET; NHL.TV, CSN-CH, FS-A).

Coach Joel Quenneville confirmed Wednesday that Toews will play. The Blackhawks' captain practiced in his usual spot between left wing Andrew Shaw and right wing Marian Hossa, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Toews sat out the third period of the Blackhawks' last game before the All-Star break, a 5-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 26, because of an illness. The Blackhawks then announced Toews would not participate in the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game. He had been selected to play for the Central Division team.

By League rule, missing the All-Star Game meant Toews had to sit out the Blackhawks' first game after the break, a 2-1 victory at the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

In a video posted to the Blackhawks website, Toews said Wednesday he isn't sure what his illness was.

"Lot of body aches, trouble sleeping," he said. "Turned into a really bad cough where I was having trouble breathing on the ice. Just a progression over a two-week period that just kept getting worst. The fact that we were playing that many games, I didn't get a chance to recuperate and get back to 100 percent. This weekend was pretty beneficial in that sense."

Toews said skipping the All-Star Game wasn't an easy decision, but said it was the right move when balanced against being healthy coming out of the break.

"It's not an easy thing considering the fact that you want to be there, you want to represent your team, your teammates and be there for the Hawks fans that are behind you," he said. "It's always special to be part of that. But it got to the point where things were not getting better. … In the bigger picture it was the right thing to do to make sure I'm ready to play and be healthy coming out of the break."

Toews was pleased with the way his teammates stepped up in his absence.

"Couple rough games going into the break, but to come out, guys showed up to play and were ready for it," Toews said. "Just shows how this group takes advantage of time off and getting rest; we don't let it go to waste. Nice to see the guys played well. Hopefully I can jump back in and continue wining the last little bit."

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